( 1,011 words, posted September 20, 1996; not to be read before September 20, 1999)

To help them decide how much rehab I needed,
they gave me the elevator test.
I was placed in one of the incomplete elevators
and the "up" button was pressed.

A floor later, a woman got on.
"I know you think I'm just an asshole," I said to her,
"But you have to understand,
I'm only that way
on the ground floor.

In here,
in this elevator,
10 stories up
I'm another person
my real self.

That asshole you see outside of here,
who talks like me
and has my face and my name
that's not me at all."

She looked like she was seriously considering my story
as she got out at the 11th floor
and fell off the edge of the building,
which, at this level, hadn't even been built yet.

Then the door closed
and the elevator continued on to the sky,
where the building hadn't even been designed yet.

Alan Smitty has written and/or directed well over 5000 films. He is a frequent contributor to STALL , and writes about 98% of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal each day. He also writes all of Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report, each week.